Hector Bellerin returned to action for Arsenal last night and was hardly on the pitch for any time at all before he set up a goal for Joe Willock.
Arsenal fielded a much-changed side against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup but where they had once fell to their rivals 4-2 in the FA Cup, there was to be no repeat this year.
Two goals from Gabriel Martinelli plus Rob Holding, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson’s efforts gave Arsenal’s scoresheet a youthful flavour on a night packed full of positives.
From a cleansheet to the fact that we limited Forest to just five attempts all game (only one of which was on target), there was much to be happy about. Don’t come at me about them being ‘only’ a Championship side, you know that’s never stopped us before.
We had Rob Holding returning to the side, playing the full 90 and getting on the scoresheet along with Hector Bellerin, future club captain if Emery has any sense, and Kieran Tierney who impressed everyone by not only being able to cross a ball but find a man with it at the same time.
Plus there was Calum Chambers creating three assists like a man possessed, Martinelli’s spanking top-corner effort, Nelson getting his first senior goal and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten as I sit here not yet properly caffeinated.
It was a total madness.
Speaking after the game, Unai Emery picked out Hector for special mention.
“I think Hector’s attitude is a very big attitude to help us,” Emery said. “When he was injured he was still a big mentality in the dressing room helping us.
“He assisted for Willock to score and also to have different options in the squad and first XI is good. We are going to play a lot of matches and tonight was his first 15 minutes [with us], which is really important.
“He wanted to play 90 and yesterday he told me he’s ready and wanted to play, but we decided to give him less minutes than 90. He played with the under-23s on Friday and also they are the first matches for him. We need to do it progressively and the doctor said to us that we are going to do it like that.
“I think no [he can’t play 90 minutes against Manchester United next]. Maybe in his mind yes, but we need to listen to the doctor and the doctor wants to do it progressively. Really tonight is the first day and the first minutes, and we are going to maybe share some minutes with the under-23s.
“It depends how he’s feeling, but in his mind he’s feeling very well and I think the first minutes tonight were amazing for him. We are going to use him with Ainsley and Calum Chambers to help us in this position. The most important things about Hector are his attitude and experience. He’s wishing to help us.”